NewsTrust: Watching the Watchers
*Update – my NewsTrust member page can be found here.*
In the past week I spent some time evaluating articles on NewsTrust.net, a website meant to aid online news consumers in the quest for good journalism by posting and critiquing stories.
Overall, I like what I saw on NewsTrust and think that if the project can expand its membership beyond hardcore newsies, the site could be a definitive voice in online news coverage.
Like most crowdsourcing projects, NewsTrust relies on a large community to sift through information and pass judgment on articles and their authors before the information becomes irrelevant. Because these articles are so time-sensitive, a larger, more active group of reviewers could go a long way to ensure journalistic gems from smaller media outlets are not overlooked.
As it stands, the 20,000-plus reviewing community largely gravitates towards mainstream news like the New York Times and Wall Street Journal, rather than smaller local publications where readers could most benefit from an uninvolved third party reviewer.
Additionally, people tend to review websites they agree with and often pass over reviewed articles from news sites they would not normally read, creating some minor bias issues since unpopular news platforms face less reader scrutiny. As an experiment, I posted a review for a profile from MSNBC and an AP report posted on FoxNews. Not surprisingly, my MSNBC article had a lot more follow up reviews compared to the Fox report.
While the uneven focus of reviews is an issue for the site in its current state, I feel like this problem will decline as the number of users making regular reviews grows and the community becomes more active and diverse.
As a journalist, I see NewsTrust as becoming a handy source for both reviewing my own work as well as helping me find reliable information of past events which I may be pushed into the middle of and asked to cover. For example, if I were to cover the school board in a city I have just transferred to, I would want to not only read up on past events, but do so with the comfort that what I am reading has been established as fair, unbiased coverage before I start forming my own questions.